In a game of poker, things can, without any notice, suddenly turn around and see a different player take the lead. The real world is no different. Australian casino magnate James Packer’s Crown Resorts, in partnership with the Chinese firm Greenland, now looks set to take over the bid to build the $3 billion-plus Queen’s Wharf casino-resort development in the Brisbane CBD.
This after Labour Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk ordered bureaucrats to investigate several issues with the tender process, according to The Australian. Crown’s rival, Echo Entertainment, looked set to get the bid and was enterting into final negotiations with the state government, but the talks were put on hold with the January election.
Echo Entertainment holds the existing casino licence for the Brisbane area but ever since the Liberal National Party suffered a surprise defeat to Labour in January, “all bets are off”, as The Australian put it.
Packers’s Crown Resorts is understood to have a 20 percent stake in the development with Greenland, while Echo Entertainment had a 50 percent share with two Hong Kong partners.
Crown Resorts looking forward
Three government buildings are being demolished for the development which will include function centres, shops, restaurants, apartments and multiple high-end hotels in addition to the casino.
A union report last year allegedly made claims that Echo’s partners had corporate links with Macau casino pioneer Stanley Ho, according to The Australian, who is banned from having any involvement in gambling in New South Wales – this may have prompted the move by the Palaszczuk government to slow down the decision-making process until all probity checks have been carried out.
However, others involved in the Queen’s Wharf tender process, especially those who had supported Echo’s bid, are apparently concerned about Greenland’s controlling stake. The previous government had been suspicious of a “real-estate play” by Greenland through the Crown partnership.
This latest development comes soon after it was reported by New Zealand’s Business Day that Crown Resorts had seen a 28 percent fall in share price and a planned $US400 million casino development in Sri Lanka seems to have been scrapped following a change of government.